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James, Jennifer, Georgina. Are the Butlers. Father, mother, daughter.

The autobiography of a family.
An autopsy of book design.


A story

James Jennifer Georgina – A story by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

Written between the lines of 1136 meticulously documented postcards, spanning ten years of travel, is the tale of the Butler family. It is a story of abandonment and love, of sickness and health, and of a marriage in transit.

In this bright-yellow, 1200-page volume, world-renowned designer Irma Boom carefully and thoroughly retraces the journey of a lifetime. Her Yellow Book is a monument to book design, and an epic family portrait.


A story in postcards

From 1989 to 1999, James and I drove 270,000 miles together. As the roads unrolled, I would think about our daughter Georgina, about what to tell her. We travelled to save James and to protect our daughter. And every day we were apart I wrote to her.

James Jennifer Georgina – A story in postcards by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

The first act of the book—an exquisitely printed selection of postcards, penned in Jennifer’s steady hand, with James’ irregular interjections—sets the calm, but relentless pace, in which the Butlers confront their obstacles; mile by mile, stamp by stamp, one day at a time.

Stamped this month in 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 19, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 19, 1990

Los Angeles, Tuesday, 19 June 1990

You see the little lady on the front? That is how you make me feel: strong, upright with a torch of light.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 22, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 22, 1990

Friday, 22 June 1990

Pa tells me you crawled over to his chair and pulled yourself up on his pant leg.

Stamped this month in 1992

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 8, 1992

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 8, 1992

Monday, 8 June 1992

There’s only one thing to be said for being alone with Mumm and that is things get done. Rest of the week will be spent in London. More news.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 9, 1992

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 9, 1992

Tuesday, 9 June 1992

Do you see the Birdie?

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, June 13, 1992

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, June 13, 1992

Saturday, 13 June 1992

Called in on Helen Blomfield... We had a nice chat and a glass of lemon barley water. She has a lovely pair of grape scissors which we will give to Richard & Sue for their 40th. Ran into your godmother. Papa shot a rabbit for dinner – the one whose been eating our roses.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 16, 1992

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 16, 1992

Tuesday, 16 June 1992

Day at home and the only thing that made it feel like summer was Royal Ascot on the TV and strawberries in the garden.

Stamped this month in 1993

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 21, 1993

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 21, 1993

Lundi, le 21 juin 1993

La Bohême: the sopranos torpedoed high C and Mimi died rather too fortissima. Bravissima. Never did like Puccini and Mimi kept singing “it’s cold”. But a big family occasion.

Stamped this month in 1994

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 17, 1994

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 17, 1994

Londres, samedi, le 17 juin 1994

I found your bather bottoms in your cupboard! Do not have cupboards. Have drawers. Everything behind the front is out of eyelevel and lost in the dark.

Stamped this month in 1995

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, June 15, 1995

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, June 15, 1995

Thursday, 15 June 1995

You sent me a beautiful Father’s Day card. The castle with the French flag, le tricouleur, looked a lovely place to live. Well, in 3 days I will be back to you and Le Mas and the hills and the pool. Thank you.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, June 18, 1995

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, June 18, 1995

Dimanche, le 18 juin 1995

It was good to see Papa after 3 weeks. He’s lost so much weight he looks 10 years younger. His spirits are good and we are both hopeful that a better and more joyous life is in front of us. I am sure it will be a struggle but worth the effort. If you are ever looking for a charitable commitment, Clouds is a worthy charity. I stayed with Tomsey, Mikey, Guysey, Ansy and Franny last night in Hampshire. Oh and Lily and Craig as well. The weather is quite lovely and I still could catch the end of the rhododendrun.

Stamped this month in 1997

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, June 18, 1997

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, June 18, 1997

Londres, mercredi, le 18 juin 1997

However, young G, oh how I would love you to be a politician. You have the talent and the genetics. By god it is an interesting endeavour: the art of the possible as your granddad repeated. Tomorrow is the Tory leadership 3rd round run-off. May Ken Clark win, one of RAB’s private secretaries.

Stamped this month in 1998

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 5, 1998

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 5, 1998

Londres, vendredi, le 5 juin 1998

Postage went up on April 1. That is postage to Europe. I must say I often wondered at the lunacy of 1st class postage costing the same to Halstead, Essex as Lisbon, Portugal.

Darlinghissima, my caressima. How I missima.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 15, 1998

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 15, 1998

Monday, 15 June 1998

One thing you should know now: if my body is not in shape, nothing makes me happy.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 15, 1998

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 15, 1998

Monday, 15 June 1998

There are allergies – subtle as they may be that affect my eating habits. They are rather like subtle, and not so subtle – allergies to people.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, June 17, 1998

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, June 17, 1998

Wednesday, 17 June 1998

Another 5 kilos and I can wear a 2 piece bathing costume. I should be pleased with myself inasmuch as 11 days ago I couldn’t, in good conscience, wear any bathing costume in public.

Stamped this month in 1999

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 8, 1999

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, June 8, 1999

Paris, mardi, le 8 juin 1999

I like Paris in early June. Not too hot. Not too crowded. I want to live with you in the VIIème. I know my way around. I had a jolly good dinner with Pouillon who has wonderful confidence in my translator, Hérisson. We should have the translation 28 June. In fact, Hérisson is a specialist in the ‘roman policier’. And ‘Quercus’ is really a hybrid. I am going to dedicate (dédier) the French translation to Pouillon because truly he has made my career. De Beauvoir discovered me but she died too soon. I will dedicate the next to you.

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 11, 1999

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, June 11, 1999

Londres, jeudi, le 10 juin 1999

Now that I am a British subject, I can vote. (You can vote when you’re 18) And I did. The polling station was 5 minutes from the flat, next to World’s End Nursery and the voting form was a metre long. I voted with a simple X under Conservative.


A story in many postcards

As many days as there are clouds.

October 1989

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, October 26, 1989

November 1989

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, November 15, 1989

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, November 16, 1989

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, November 24, 1989

December 1989

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, December 3, 1989

January 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, January 11, 1990

March 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, March 15, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, March 17, 1990

May 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, May 13, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, May 15, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, May 16, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, May 18, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, May 19, 1990

June 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 18, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, June 21, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, June 24, 1990

July 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, July 30, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, July 31, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, July 31, 1990

August 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, August 8, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, August 8, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, August 9, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, August 10, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, August 12, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, August 13, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, August 14, 1990

September 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, September 1, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, September 4, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, September 6, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, September 10, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, September 21, 1990

November 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, November 19, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, November 20, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, November 20, 1990

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, November 21, 1990

February 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, February 14, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, February 19, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, February 20, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, February 21, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, February 22, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, February 23, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, February 28, 1991

March 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, March 14, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, March 15, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Saturday, March 16, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, March 18, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, March 19, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, March 20, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, March 21, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, March 22, 1991

April 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, April 1, 1991

May 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, May 3, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Friday, May 31, 1991

June 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, June 3, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Sunday, June 30, 1991

July 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, July 1, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, July 2, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, July 8, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Wednesday, July 24, 1991

August 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Tuesday, August 6, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, August 12, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, August 12, 1991

October 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Thursday, October 17, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – Postcard stamped on Monday, October 21, 1991

James Jennifer Georgina – A story in many postcards by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones


A story with con­ver­sa­tions

The second act of the saga takes place a decade after the Butlers’ journey ends, when their daughter Georgina is coming of age. In 21 transcribed, informal conversations, the family openly and honestly discusses their shared history, recorded on the postcards.

James Jennifer Georgina – A story with conversations by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

Conversation Twenty-one [Excerpt]

James Jennifer Georgina

Manor Farm, Dorset, Friday, 21 May, 2010

Jennifer It’s the last dialogue and the theme—surprise, surprise—is the postcards. I’ve read and reread the postcards so many times.

Georgina When did we start keeping them? Why weren’t they thrown out?

Jennifer My intent was always to give you a history of me, of us, of Dad because I was denied that. I don’t even have a photograph of me with my mother. Not one. YES. I wanted someone to know I became part of a family and, as it turned out, a very ancient family. My life began with me. I have no information about my ancestors. So I married a husband with a great ancestry. [Uncertain if this is funny or sad]

James I think Mumm did have a lot of guilt about being away so much. It was complicated. It was a way of keeping in touch and keeping me alive.

Georgina Why did the postcards stop?


A story about family

James Jennifer Georgina – A story about family by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

I don’t remember you and Dad at all before seven.

In the third, and last act of the book, the Butlers’ story is presented in yet a different way. An intimate selection of pictures from family albums, depicts the protagonists, as their lives unfold, both separately and together.


A book

In this exclusive, limited-edition tome, internationally acclaimed bookmaker Irma Boom explores narrative structure and storytelling, in relation to graphic design. Respectfully, yet uncompromisingly, she captures the true story of a family; its beauty, but also its reality.

James Jennifer Georgina – A book by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

As equally extraordinary and innovative as the narrative structure, is the design of the rich yellow object itself. A unique three part spine was especially developed for this nine centimeters-thick book, allowing it to open effortlessly at any page.


A book by Irma Boom

Amsterdam-based graphic designer Irma Boom's prolific and influential body of work (currently consisting of over 250 books) focuses on the elemental and formal aspects of book design—size, paper, structure, and binding—in relation to the content. During a time when the lineage of book printing history is rapidly changing course, Irma’s designs have brought her international recognition, and commissions including Chanel, Ferrari and the United Nations. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Gutenberg‑Preis and Johannes Vermeer Prijs. Irma’s work has been exhibited in museums worldwide, and is included in the permanent collections of the MoMA, and the University of Amsterdam.


A book as a portrait

James Jennifer Georgina – A book as a portrait by Irma Boom for Erasmus Publishing – Product photo by Ivan Jones

During the creation of this book, which entailed an intensive, three-year collaboration between Irma Boom and the Butlers, she invited renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf to make portraits of the family, in his signature style.


Purchase

ISBN 978-0-9566266-0-8

Unsigned editions of James Jennifer Georgina for € 666.

Signed editions of James Jennifer Georgina for € 3000.

Display copies of James Jennifer Georgina are available at the following bookstores, museums and collections:

New York

MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art)

11 West 53 Street
New York, New York 10019-5497
+1 212 7089400
http://moma.org

Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
+1 312 4433600
http://artic.edu

Paris

The American Library in Paris

10, rue du Général Camou
75007 Paris
+33 1 53591260
http://americanlibraryinparis.org

Amsterdam

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Museumplein 10
1071 DJ Amsterdam
+31 20 5732911
http://stedelijk.nl

UvA Special Collections

Oude Turfmarkt 129
1012 GC Amsterdam
+31 20 5257300
http://bijzonderecollecties.uva.nl

Nijhof & Lee

Oude Turfmarkt 129
1012 GC Amsterdam
+31 20 5257300
http://www.nijhoflee.nl

Eindhoven

Van Abbemuseum

Bilderdijklaan 10
5611 NH Eindhoven
+31 40 2381000
http://vanabbemuseum.nl


Colophon

Book design and concept by Irma Boom, http://irmaboom.nl

With photos by Erwin Olaf, http://www.erwinolaf.com

Website design and texts by Joris Landman, http://jorislandman.com

Product photos by Ivan Jones, http://ivan-jones.co.uk

Published by Erasmus Publishing Limited, http://erasmuspublishing.com

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All information on this website falls within the terms of copyright or is part of the public domain as far as the publisher is aware and has been able to verify. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the copyright holder(s).